Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jesus' light pierced the darkness already, and soon will dispel it completely!

ROMANS 13:12
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.


Sometimes, at night, I maneuver through the dark house using the light from my cellphone's flashlight. It isn't ideal, but it provides just enough light for me to get where I need to go. The light pierces the darkness but doesn't eliminate it. If I wasn't concerned with waking my family, I would simply flip a switch and turn on the lights in the hall or room where I am. Those lights don't just pierce the darkness, the dispell it. The darkness is eliminated.

At Christmas, Jesus pierced the darkness. He was the light that came into the world and showed us what we needed to get to where He wanted us to go. His life was our example, His death was our substitute, and His resurrection was our salvation. He showed us the way back to our Heavenly Father.



At His second coming, Jesus will not just pierce the darkness, He will dispell it. He will right all wrongs, He will make all things new, He will eliminate evil and its power.

Jesus is the light and if we are His, we are children of light. When He comes into our life, He ends a lifetime of darkness and empowers us to live a new life of light.

Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I am not a fan of Bath and Body Works

PHILIPPIANS 4:18
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Marianne loves Bath and Body Works. She has some kind of membership/rewards deal which allows her every so often to get incredible discounts in the store. We often do a lot of our Christmas shopping there (we did much more when we were still buying gifts for our kids' teachers).

I don't care for the store. The cacophony of smells is overwhelming, even for someone like me who has a poor sense of smell. Recently, they've added some "male scents" with names like Bourbon, Graphite, and Teakwood. This makes it a little more manageable for me, but I still don't like it. Usually, I'll hang out with Marianne for about 5 minutes, then I'll drift out into the mall and look for a massage chair.

The overwhelming fragrance is just not something I enjoy.

In Philippians 4:18, Paul describes the Philippians gift to him as a "fragrant offering." What do you think he meant by that?

I am quite confident the Philippians didn't send Paul a gift basket with some Teakwood body wash from Bath and Body Works. In fact, Paul wasn't even saying that their gift smelled good to him. He was saying their gift smelled good to God!

This is Old Testament imagery. When the Israelites would offer up their burnt sacrifices to God, the aroma would fill the air. If their hearts were right when making the sacrifice, God said that it was a pleasing fragrance to Him.

Paul is transferring the concept from the burnt offerings of the Israelites in the Old Testament to the generous giving of the Gentiles in the New Testament.

What does this mean for you? When you give to others out of a heart full of gratitude toward God... your sacrifice is a pleasing fragrance to your Heavenly Father.

So at Thanksgiving this year, don't stop at being grateful. Let your gratitude spill over into generosity toward your fellow man. You will be offering a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

9-9-9 Updated.

I love making lists. I made these three lists back in 2011. I guess some things change and some things stay the same.

2011

9 Teams I Prefer to All Others:

  1. Michigan State Spartans
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Liverpool FC Reds
  5. Detroit Red Wings
  6. Sailor Soccer
  7. Cedarville Yellowjackets
  8. Detroit Pistons
  9. Cincinnati Reds

9 Teams I Love to Hate:

  1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Minnesota Twins
  4. Colorado Avalanche
  5. Manchester United Red Devils
  6. Green Bay Packers
  7. Chicago White Sox
  8. Dallas Cowboys
  9. New York Yankees

9 Athletes I Admire:

  1. Steve Yzerman
  2. Barry Sanders
  3. Lou Whitaker
  4. Steve Smith (MSU basketball)
  5. John Stockton/Karl Malone
  6. Greg Maddox
  7. Isaiah Thomas
  8. Brandon Inge
  9. Andy Pettitte

2019

9 Teams I Prefer to All Others:

  1. George Fox University Bruins Soccer
  2. Liverpool FC
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Detroit Lions
  6. Michigan State Spartans
  7. Dutch National Team (Soccer)
  8. Taylor University Trojans
  9. FC Cincinnati

9 Teams I Love to Hate:

  1. University of Michigan
  2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  3. Manchester United
  4. Green Bay Packers
  5. Chicago Bears
  6. Minnesota Twins
  7. Colorado Avalanche
  8. Dallas Cowboys
  9. New York Yankees

9 Pro Athletes I Admire:

  1. Steve Yzerman
  2. Barry Sanders
  3. Lou Whitaker
  4. Steven Gerrard
  5. Pavel Datsyuk
  6. Matthew Stafford
  7. Justin Verlander
  8. Lionel Messi
  9. Jordan Henderson

Don't be a trouble-maker. Be a trouble-taker.

Every year around Christmas, my small Christian school had a roller-skating party at the local rink. The first time I attended was in third grade and I think it was only the second time I had roller-skated in my life. I wasn't very good, and I was afraid of falling, so I crept around the rink with one hand on the wall. I was more shuffling than skating.
Then Jimmy came alongside me, grabbed my hand and said, "Come on." Slowly we skated around the rink over and over and over until I started to get the hang of it. Jimmy was a great skater, he could dart in and out of people, flying around the oval faster than almost everyone else. He won the age-graded races and the limbo competition every year. I imagine it was incredibly boring and a little frustrating to skate beside me when he could have been gliding around the rink at a much faster rate of speed.
But he chose to share my trouble. For many years (until I moved away), Jimmy and I were the best of friends. Today, we're still Facebook friends with plenty of great memories.
The Philippians shared Paul's trouble. In Philippians 4:14-18, Paul spilled over in gratitude for the contributions they had made. 
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Although they probably had no idea what the outcome would be, these generous people chose to simply invest what they had for the benefit of someone else. We know the outcome was the spread of the Gospel across the known world!
When you choose to share in someone else's trouble, you have no idea what the outcome will be. What you know for sure is that you are living like Jesus. He came to earth, specifically to share in our trouble so that He could ultimately rescue us from our trouble.
Your words and actions can either make trouble for others or take trouble from others. You make the choice!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Good Ingredients = Great Products

Marianne bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies. She has the whole process down to a science. A while back, we needed to make a batch of cookies and she didn't have time, so she asked me to make them. She gave me her recipe and left me on my own.

They turned out ok. Not great. Edible.

She understands better than I do the perfect ratios in the ingredients. She has a deeper and more accurate experience with the recipe because she has made the cookies so many more times than I do.

Simply put, the better you understand and utilize the ingredients, the better your final product will be.


Do you understand the proper ingredients to bake a spiritually healthy life? Paul gave us a recipe in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This verse follows Paul's instructions to not be anxious or fearful about anything. His main point is that we need to fill our minds with God's ingredients instead of the world's ingredients.

Take a moment and think about how you fill your mind.

  • What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
  • What do you watch on TV or Netflix?
  • Which movies do you go to?
  • What thoughts fill your imagination?
  • What music is on your playlist?
  • With whom do you have the longest conversations?
  • Whose advice do you most often follow?
  • Which books shape your decisions?
  • What events do you replay in your mind?
  • What conversations do you dwell on?

Now apply Philippians 4:8 to all these inputs. The ingredients with which you fill your mind will determine whether or not you honor God with your life.

Before you go to bed tonight, take a moment and evaluate how well you filled your mind during the day. Then take a couple minutes and refill yourself with the truth of God (read your Bible, meditate on a verse you know, give thanks for His presence, provision, promises, and power).

Every morning, plan intentionally to fill your mind with ingredients that lead to hope, peace, joy, righteousness, faith, and love.

Bake a life that pleasing to God!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

You don't have to feel joyful in order to live joyfully (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
"Rejoice" means "to demonstrate joy." It is an active word. More than something you feel, rejoicing is something you do. 
Nat King Cole sang about rejoicing.
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev'ry trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
He was mostly right. What he didn't mention (but Paul did) is that we can rejoice IN THE LORD. Circumstances change, emotions fluctuate, relationships struggle but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Sometimes we struggle to live joyfully because we are rejoicing in the wrong thing. If your greatest joy derives from your team winning a game, you'll not always be joyful because they won't always win. If your greatest joy is gleaned from your job, you won't always be joyful because your job will sometimes be miserable. If your greatest joy is in your children, or spouse, or significant other, or a pursuit of a significant other; you'll not always be joyful because people will let you down.
Paul says to ALWAYS live joyfully because of Jesus! In every situation, remind yourself that He is present, He is powerful, and He is passionate for your growth. Then, regardless of what is happening and regardless of how you feel...
REJOICE!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Can't We All Just Get Along? (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

We don't know much about Euodia and Syntyche. We know they were both followers of Jesus. We know they worked alongside Paul. But the thing they are famous for is that they couldn't get along with each other.


Paul doesn't mention who was right or wrong, and he gives no details about their dispute. He simply begs them to AGREE.

Do you have someone in your life with whom it is difficult to agree? Here are 5 actions you can take to increase agreement with disagreeable people.

A -- Assume the best of the other person
G -- Give the benefit of the doubt to the other person
R -- Recognize the good in the other person
E -- Engage in gracious conversation with the other person
E -- Emphasize alignment instead of dissent

Remember, it takes two to disagree. You cannot control what anyone else does, but you can always control what you say, what you do, and how you do it!